Early Career Artist Grant Recipients

January 13 –  February 18, 2024
Main Gallery
Exhibition opening: Friday, January 12, 6 – 8 pm
Artist talks: Friday, January 12, 4 pm

Join us in celebrating the achievements of our 2022 – 23 Early Career Artist Grant Recipients. Northern Clay Center administers several grant programs designed to support artists in the early stages of their careers through residencies, grants, and education. This exhibition features the work of Clarice Allgood, Johannah Cairns, Sean Lofton, Evelyn Rose Mtika, and Katie Reeves.

Early Career Artist Residencies
Northern Clay Center’s Early Career Artist Residency programs—the Anonymous Artist Studio Fellowship, the BIPOC Studio Fellowship, and the Fogelberg Studio Fellowship—are designed to provide emerging ceramic artists an opportunity to be in residence for one year at NCC. Between September 1, 2022 and August 31, 2023, the residents had the opportunity to develop their work while exchanging ideas and knowledge with a dynamic network of ceramic artists. Among national clay art centers, NCC offers an urban experience within a diverse and supportive community.

Anonymous Artist Studio Fellowship
The Anonymous Artist Studio Fellowship was awarded to two early career ceramic artists working in a functional, sculptural, relational, or installation-based manner. Fellows shared a furnished studio space with 24/7 access to NCC’s facilities from September 1, 2022, to August 31, 2023.

BIPOC Studio Fellowship
The BIPOC Studio Fellowship supports one early career ceramic artist of color who is working in a functional, sculptural, relational, or installation-based manner. The 2022 recipient shared a furnished studio space from September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2023 and was provided additional resources to pursue mentorship opportunities including participation in the NCECA conference, support more robust materials and firing use, and to buttress the cost of living.

Fogelberg Studio Fellowship
The Fogelberg Studio Fellowship supported one early career ceramic artist working in a strictly functional manner, who is a Minnesota or Wisconsin resident, and interested in pursuing a career in studio pottery. The 2022 recipient had access to a furnished private studio space from September 1, 2022, to August 31, 2023.

Pottery Museum of Red Wing Award
The Pottery Museum of Red Wing Award is presented to one maker in the local ceramics community as selected through a nominative process. Supporting their development and highlighting their achievements, this award aims to elevate the recognition of each recipient within the ceramics community.

The Pottery Museum of Red Wing Award is made possible by the Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation, and is presented by Northern Clay Center to a deserving individual pursuing a career in pottery, or studying or researching the historical aspects of the pottery industry. The Foundation endeavors to broaden appreciation of pottery—past and present—or the general public and maintains the Red Wing Pottery Museum in Red Wing, Minnesota. Northern Clay Center has awarded this grant on behalf of the Foundation since 2004.

About the Artists

Clarice Allgood, Pottery Museum of Red Wing Award
Clarice Allgood had a somewhat unconventional ceramic history of workshops, open studios, and unofficial residencies that led to her arrival in Minnesota in 2018. In 2019, she graduated from the advanced certificate program MN NICE and was the 2020 Fogelberg Fellow at Northern Clay Center. From a free-spirited, traveling childhood and her academic education in philosophy comes a perspective rooted in thoughtfulness and curiosity.

Though Allgood’s ceramics are often grounded in practicality, they maintain a particular whimsy and environmental aesthetic. The forms and use of her pots and objects are meant to enrich what she calls “quiet acts of self-reliance”: They are watering cans for gardening, bowls for knitting, utensils for cooking, and bookends to organize reading. Though Allgood is thoroughly involved in the making and conceptualizing processes, the magic, nature, and mystery of relinquishing her work to the powers of the soda kiln is currently an important part of her practice.

Johannah Cairns, Anonymous Artist Studio Fellowship
Johannah Cairns is a ceramic and textile figure sculptor whose work showcases soft-bodied dolls that represent the conflict between desire for the safety of home comforts and the innate need for meaningful interpersonal connection.

Cairns received a BA in visual art from University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS) in 2020 and a Post-Baccalaureate of Artisanry Ceramics Certificate from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2022. Also in 2022, she was nominated for the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award at the International Sculpture Center (Hamilton Township, NJ) and in 2019, the Windgate University Fellows Scholarship Endowment through University of Kansas and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (Gatlinburg, TN).

Cairns has participated in several group exhibitions including New Works in Ceramics at Gallery X (New Bedford, MA) in 2022 and the Graduate Exchange Exhibition at the Drewelowe Gallery at the University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA).

Sean Lofton, Anonymous Artist Studio Fellowship
Sean Lofton developed a new body of work that was informed by his time as a resident artist at Northern Clay Center. Prior to his arrival, he was working exclusively with clay as a sculptural and installation-based medium. However, he found himself returning to functional pottery as a means of personal expression.

Much of his time in his studio was spent reflecting on the new home he found in Minnesota. Having grown up in the South, he never experienced anything like his first winter in Minneapolis. It was a wonderful and alien experience for him. He spent his time walking across the frozen lakes of the Twin Cities, struck by the strange splendor of true winter.

He writes, “I was amazed to see the frozen face of the lake covered in cracks, yet it remained unyielding to steps. In these pots, I have worked to emulate those early walks and the impressions that I had. I used slips to add surface cracks that may cause an initial tenuous contact with my pottery, just like my first probing steps along the frozen shore. The use of a clear glaze, with the subtlest hint of blue echo the temperature of my first winter. Lastly, the application of dark stains that quote the moments when the snow would clear from the lake’s icy surface and reveal the dark depths below. All of this has been applied to the pottery shapes I was familiar with from my earliest ceramic education.”

This fusion of new and old impressions created pots that feel familiar yet novel to him, allowing every vessel to become a discovery. His hope is that these pots will bring a similar feeling to anyone who interacts with them, and transport them to a similar time of discovery in their lives.

Evelyn Rose Mtika, BIPOC Studio Fellowship
Evelyn Rose Mtika is an emerging artist who received a BFA from University of Hartford (West Hartford, CT) with a major in ceramics and a minor in painting. Her work includes portraiture, figure, text, and is focused on exploring intertwined cultural connection and differences. Her body of work is related to defining the experience of living within and between the Black and African diaspora. As a west Philadelphia resident, Mtika hopes to eventually make a difference working in the community she grew up in by helping to make art more accessible. She has had work shown at various galleries such as Clay Art Center (Port Chester, NY), Saratoga Clay Arts Center (Schuylerville, NY), Joseloff Gallery at University of Hartford, and Tyler School of Art Gallery at Temple University (Philadelphia, PA). In April 2022, she produced her capstone exhibition, Hands on, within Silpe Gallery at University of Hartford.

Katie Reeves, Fogelberg Studio Fellowship
Katie Reeves makes functional ceramic ware that focuses on the themes of sexuality, femininity, classicality, and intimacy. Their sexuality plays a large role in what they make. As a lesbian, Reeves is very attracted to femininity. They reference the female form in their work with the use of soft and voluptuous curves in their pieces. Using porcelain as a clay body, and the addition of sprigs and slip trailing, they create work that is feminine and delicate, while simultaneously being bold and sassy.

Their work makes direct references to antiquity—specifically Baroque and Rococo ornamentation. They are drawn to the intricate and extravagant detailing on old metalware, such as that on antique frames, silverware, and furniture. Using slip detailing, Reeves creates intricate designs that mimic many of these patterns. They enjoy the combinations of decorative embellishments and use many of these qualities in their functional wares. These techniques give their pieces an elegant feel.

They focus on making work that is comfortable in the hand and on the mouth. Reeves’ work emphasizes the moments of contact between the user and the object. The suppleness of the curves and the textures of the slip trailing are meant to invite the viewer to run their fingers along each moment. They enjoy watching the user interact with the piece as they discover every texture.

Related Events

Early Career Artist Grant Recipient Presentations
Join us for presentations by these five early career artists.
24WX11: Friday, January 12, 4 – 6 pm CT
Free, NCC Library

Virtual Tour

Purchase Work

A selection of work from the exhibition will available to purchase directly from our website. If you would like to enquire about work not online, please contact us at 612.339.8007, or salesgallery@northernclaycenter.org, we’ll be happy to help!